Thursday, October 31, 2013

Best Quote of the . . . Ever!

Be careful out there, people, and always be wary of clowns . . .
even when it's not clown season.

Guest Blogger Today!

Happy! Happy! Happy! A long time mentor of mine stopped by yesterday and allowed me to coerce him in to working on a few of my house plants. Hank has had quite a green thumb in his day, and has taught me a great deal about growing things, especially about fertilizing them well.

The first thing we did was to make some self-watering planters, because I have a terrible habit of over or under watering my house plants. If you'd like the instructions, they can be found {here}. We modified the plans a bit, but not much.  

In the first picture you see: soil, 2 litre soda bottles (empty), screen circles to cover the holes, and felt strips to act as wicks.

The instructions are simple, really.

  1. Cut the bottle approximately in half. 
  2. Invert the top half. 
  3. String a felt strip so that it will draw water from the bottom half up into the soil 
  4. Insert the screen circle. 
  5. Fill with dirt and plant. 

Hopefully I can keep these guys alive better. (Now I just need to outsmart the cats.)

Next, Hank took a look at my spider plant in the front window. It was getting dark by the time we got to it so the best picture I got was actually from outside. (Please pay no attention to my dirty windows.) You can see Hank in the background, almost hidden by the massive plant, and some of our Halloween decorations in the foreground.

He did a bit of trimming, but the good news is that I have managed to avoid damaging it, and it is in ripping good health.

Hank loves to nurture heirloom, rare, and just plain odd plants that he finds on his travels or through people he meets, and he gave me a pot full of seedlings. (I hope I do him justice.)

It's right there in the center of this not very clear picture.

My camera isn't very good and there is a glare from the lights, but here is a closeup.

From myself, my family, and 'Hank,'
Have a safe, fun, and happy Halloween!


Does this qualify as a Saturday Farmer's Market post even though it's on Thursday?

Listen . . .

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.
November Night 
 - Adelaide Crapsey 

Where is He?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh Noes!


                        2013 member's Anthology, this world,  is out.

only enough rain                                                             autumn clouds -
to count the drops -                                                        what I think I know
false hopes                                                                        keeps changing
           Scott Wiggerman                                                             Susan Constable
           Austin, Texas                                                                    Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

Haiku anthologies remind me of that colorful hard candy my grandmother used to make at Christmas. Each color was a different flavor, like licorice, cherry, root beer, . . . But the colors were not really hints to the flavor. My Nana was crafty that way. You just had to trust, then sit back and enjoy.

Logic to the Rescue: Adventures in Reason (eBook) - Kris Langman

If you need help in illustrating logic and the scientific method to young people, this is a good choice.

Offered free by Nook, Amazon, and Kobo, and it was definitely worth more than I paid for it.

There are several books in this series, each tackling a different subject, but I've only read the first.

Having a library card and an eReader is a wonderful thing!

The 9th Judgement (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Do some lives have greater value than others?

Are some people really above all suspicion?

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

10th Anniversary (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Some anniversaries are far more memorable than others.

11th Hour (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro       

I have always hated plots based on misunderstandings where people don't talk to each other. Have you ever found yourself screaming in your head at characters who won't listen to you?

You're a veteran cop for crying out loud! Act like one!

Luckily, it was a subplot, but it still distracted me from the story and pulled me out of the book.

I've also been enjoying some Short Story Collections.

Readers and Writers (audiobook) - Walter R. Brooks   

I loved the powerful and insightful stories, and they were narrated very well.

Ed Has His Mind Improved by Walter R. Brooks, was my favorite of the bunch, (I laughed out loud and the neighbors are giving me funny looks again) followed closely by Molly Giles' The Writers' Model.

Although I borrowed this from the library for my Nook, I would love to own it.

Malice Domestic, Volume 6 - Anne Perry    

Gardens are useful in sooooo many ways.

These stories are far removed from the explosions, chases, and shoot outs in so many murder mysteries - good and solid, old fashioned 'who done its.'

I would also add that the narration on this one is the best I've heard since I started listening to audiobooks.

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (audiobook) - Nathan Englander    
"Despite their surface mixture of humor and horror, these are stories of ideas, offering complex meditations on Judaism through the eyes of an astonishing range of characters."

This is not light reading. But these are beautiful and powerful stories that demand attention and thought.

Carry On, Jeeves (audiobook) - P. G. Wodehouse   

This is a collection of charming stories, narrated (most of them anyway) by Bertie Wooster, labeled "a useless blot on the fabric of society" by his former valet, and a "wooden-headed blighter" by others.

Bertie also has a 'unique' perception of the world coupled with a profound lack of self awareness, and his prose has a charming cadence, rich in unusual similes, metaphors and 1920's slang.

Classic Sci Fi Stories (audiobook) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, et. al.   

There is something about reading stories of the future, which were written nearly a century ago, realizing that you are standing in that future now, that the predictions were maybe not that far fetched after all, and some sound uncomfortably familiar . . .


Tales from the Fire Zone (audiobook) - Jonathan Maberry   

This was a very good read for this time of year. There were no Halloween themes, but there were plenty of 'spooks.'

Let's see: A werewolf PI, a little girl getting help on the path to being a serial killer by her imaginary (or were they) friends, a murderer convicted by the testimony of a ghost - with Holmes and Watson thrown into the mix . . .


Father Sergius and Other Short Stories (audiobook) - Leo Tolstoy  

It has been a long time since I last read Tolstoy, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his writing.

No murder mysteries or chase scenes or creepy creatures here, just exquisite portraits, or in this case snapshots, of human nature.

. . . and May Dog Bless You!

Meet Lucky, the loyal founder of Dog Bless You.

Dog Bless You supports nonprofits that pair service dogs with war veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Start here to explore and learn about all the lives that have been changed by a service dog. Enjoy photos, films, live cams, blogs, and more.

man in blue shirt lying on the floor with his head on a sleeping golden retriever

A few dog quotes:

“Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because of those illusions,”
 - Dean Koontz,
 The Darkest Evening of the Year.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace,”
 - Milan Kundera,
 as quoted in The Canine Hiker’s Bible. 

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened,”
 – Anatole France.

“Dogs are minor angels, and I don’t mean that facetiously. They love unconditionally, forgive immediately, are the truest of friends, willing to do anything that makes us happy, etcetera. If we attributed some of those qualities to a person we would say they are special. If they had all of them, we would call them angelic. But because it’s ‘only’ a dog, we dismiss them as sweet or funny but little more. However when you think about it, what are the things that we most like in another human being? Many times those qualities are seen in our dogs every single day — we’re just so used to them that we pay no attention,”
 - Jonathan Carroll.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Such a Long Que . . .

Quote of the Day

Sometimes I sensed that the books I read in rapid succession had set up some sort of murmur among themselves, transforming my head into an orchestra pit where different musical instruments sounded out, and I would realize that I could endure this life because of these musicales going on in my head.
  - Orhan Pamuk

Feelings And Actions

- Cuttlefish

He felt he was in love again—so many years had passed
And every time he saw her face, his heart would beat so fast

It happened out in public—you could see it all along
But surely, it was out of love, and could not, thus, be wrong

He never hid his feelings—he was sure to let them show
And because he signed her paychecks, well, she couldn’t tell him ‘no’

He never went ‘too far’, of course—that anyone could tell
And if she felt uncomfortable, she hid it very well

He always was a charmer—he never was a jerk
He loved the way her hair would gleam, and she? She needed work.

He acted out of love, you see—it couldn’t be his fault
He saw it as a friendship… but she saw it as assault.

It was not up to her to make his boundaries clear; he was in a position of power over her. It does not matter what his motivation was; what matters is his behavior, and his behavior was inappropriate.

This poem was written by The Digital Cuttlefish over at Free Thoughts Blogs, and she has a very important story to go with it. Please click on over and see what she has to say. It just might change your perspective a bit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult. 

A Bit of Wisdom from Someone Who Knows . . .

The Top 10 Clues You Live with Chronic Pain:
10- You wish there really was a Dr. House, M.D.
9- You watch every medical drama and understand the medical jargon, the differential diagnosis and worse yet, half the cases sound like they could be yours.
8- Your doctors talk to you like colleagues, instead of patients, because you are so well-educated on your condition(s).
7- The “middle of the night” for you is actually more like 2 o’clock in the afternoon because you deal with “sleep issues.”
6- Doing your chores, sometimes literally means just getting out of bed and taking a shower.
5- Everyday feels like PMS. (For Women)
4- You carry more pills than a pharmacy.
3- Your moods change…frequently.
2- You forget things like…wait, what was I talking about?
1- Your doctor sees you and touches you more than your spouse! (Ba-Dum-Ching)

I may not be able to do a lot of things because of my pain, but one of the few things I can do without pain (usually) is smile and laugh.

What can you add to this list?

from: at Living With Chronic Pain
Her blog has a lot of useful information & ideas. 
Go check it out.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Do You Think Halloween is Like in the King Home?

Of the parrat and other birds that can speake

 - Nick Lantz

It is for certain knowne that they have died for very anger and griefe that they could not learn to pronounce some hard words. — Pliny the Elder

When you buy the bird for your mother
you hope it will talk to her.  But weeks pass
before it does anything except pluck the bars
with its beak.  Then one day it says, “infect.”

Your mother tells you this on the phone,
and you drive over, find the frozen meals
you bought for her last week sweating
on the countertop.  ”In fact,” she says

in answer to your question, “I have been
eating,” and it’s as you point to the empty
trash can, the spotless dishes, that you
realize the bird is only saying, “in fact,”

that this is now the preamble to all
of your mother’s lies.  ”In fact,” she says,
“I have been paying the bills,” and you
believe her until you find a cache

of unopened envelopes in the freezer.
More things are showing up where
they shouldn’t.  Looking out the back
window one evening you see craters

in her yard.  While she’s watching TV,
you go out with a trowel and excavate
picture frames, flatware that looks like
the silver bones of some exquisite

animal.  You worry when you arrive
one day and see the open, empty cage
that you will find the bird dead, stuffed
in an oven mitt and left in a drawer,

but you find it sitting on her shoulder
in the kitchen.  ”In fact,” she says,
“he learned to open the cage himself.”
The bird learns new words.  You learn

which lies you can ignore.  The stroke
that kills her gives no warning, not –
the doctor assures you — that anyone
can predict such things.  When you

drive home that night with the cage
belted into the passenger seat, the bird
makes a sound that is not a word
but that you immediately recognize

as  the sound of your mother’s phone
ringing, and you know it is the sound
of you calling her again and again,
the sound of her not answering.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday Farmer's Market - A Post in Time of Plague

Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

UPDATE from Last Week:   

One of the things I love about my blog is that the upkeep is relatively easy. A little time spent doing what I enjoy, reading poetry and looking at beautiful things, yields so much for me to share with you.

But the Saturday Farmer's Market posts are a different story altogether. Most of them require actual physical labor of one sort or another. Well . . .

It has been a rough week and I'm afraid I haven't much to share. You see, late last week I developed a pain in my abdomen on the lower left side. Not much of interest resides there, so when it had finally incapacitated me, I knew just what it was.

An incubating alien had taken up residence in my abdomen and was in the process of digging its way out. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment and expertise failed to locate said alien neonate.

My doctor, to cover up his incompetence, declared that I have an infection, possibly diverticulitis, and put me on antibiotics. The alien seems to have a sensitivity to antibiotics, as the intense pain is beginning to subside. (lucky for my doctor)

But the upshot of all this is that I have done no work in the garden this week. I have barely even been able to water. And with all the new projects I have created for myself . . .

Anyway, as I seem to be (at least temporarily) on the mend, I should have something new for you next week. Until then, I will leave you with a poem.

A Litany in Time of Plague
- Thomas Nashe

Adieu, farewell, earth's bliss;
This world uncertain is;
Fond are life's lustful joys;
Death proves them all but toys;
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade.
All things to end are made,
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty is but a flower
Which wrinkles will devour;
Brightness falls from the air;
Queens have died young and fair;
Dust hath closed Helen's eye.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds open her gate.
"Come, come!" the bells do cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death's bitterness;
Hell's executioner
Hath no ears for to hear
What vain art can reply.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Haste, therefore, each degree,
To welcome destiny;
Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player's stage;
Mount we unto the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

 Silence by john henry fuseli

Friday, October 25, 2013

After Reading the News These Days . . .

This Can’t Be

 - Bruce Smith
the place of consequence, the station of his embrace.   
Or else I’m not son enough to see
the innocence and the spiritual fiddlings
in the uneven floorboards and joists,
in the guttural speech of the pipes,
in the limp and the lack of heat.
All we need, all we really need is light!
And let there be a roof with no leaks.
Oh father landlord, fill up all our breaches.

He gives himself to the cracks; into the chinks   
my father lowers his bone,
the do-it-yourself funeral. He holds the wires   
in his teeth. He strips the insulation back.   
If it’s black, it’s juiceless; if it’s red, elegiac.

from: Silver and Information. Copyright 1985.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There is Something About a Cat in a Hat that Just Makes Me Happy.

Courtesy of:

Buckroe, After the Season, 1942

 - Virginia Hamilton Adair
Past the fourth cloverleaf, by dwindling roads   
At last we came into the unleashed wind;
The Chesapeake rose to meet us at a dead end   
Beyond the carnival wheels and gingerbread.

Forsaken by summer, the wharf. The oil-green waves   
Flung yellow foam and sucked at disheveled sand.   
Small fish stank in the sun, and nervous droves   
Of cloud hastened their shadows over bay and land.

Beyond the NO DUMPING sign in its surf of cans   
And the rotting boat with nettles to the rails,   
The horse dung garlanded with jeweling flies   
And papers blown like a fleet of shipless sails,

We pushed into an overworld of wind and light   
Where sky unfettered ran wild from earth to noon,   
And the tethered heart broke loose and rose like a kite   
From sands that borrowed diamonds from the sun.

We were empty and pure as shells that air-drenched hour,   
Heedless as waves that swell at the shore and fall,   
Pliant as sea-grass, the rapt inheritors
Of a land without memory, where tide erases all.

from: Ants on the Melon: A Collection of Poems. Copyright 1996.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel

 - Sherman Alexie
All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.

The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, perferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.

If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man

then he must be a half-breed, perferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white

that we can see the blue veins running through his skin like rivers.
When the Indian woman steps out of her dress, the white man gasps

at the endless beauty of her brown skin. She should be compared to nature:
brown hills, mountains, fertile valleys, dewy grass, wind, and clear water.

If she is compared to murky water, however, then she must have a secret.
Indians always have secrets, which are carefully and slowly revealed.

Yet Indian secrets can be disclosed suddenly, like a storm.
Indian men, of course, are storms. They should destroy the lives

of any white women who choose to love them. All white women love
Indian men. That is always the case. White women feign disgust

at the savage in blue jeans and T-shirt, but secretly lust after him.
White women dream about half-breed Indian men from horse cultures.

Indian men are horses, smelling wild and gamey. When the Indian men
unbuttons his pants, the white woman should think of topsoil.

There must be one murder, one suicide, one attempted rape.
Alcohol should be consumed. Cars must be driven at high speeds.

Indians must see visions. White people can have the same visions
if they are in love with Indians. If a white person loves an Indian

then the white person is Indian by proximity. White people must carry
an Indian deep inside themselves. Those interior Indians are half-breed

and obviously from horse cultures. If the interior Indian is male
then he must be a warrior, especially if he is inside a white man.

If the interior Indian is female, then she must be a healer, especially if she is inside
a white woman. Sometimes there are complications.

An Indian man can be hidden inside a white woman. An Indian woman
can be hidden inside a white man. In these rare instances,

everybody is a half-breed struggling to learn more about his or her horse culture.
There must be redemption, of course, and sins must be forgiven.

For this, we need children. A white child and an Indian child, gender
not important, should express deep affection in a childlike way.

In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,
all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.

from: The Summer of Black Widows. Copyright 1996.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


- Leslie Adrienne Miller
Rocked in my mother’s pregnant amble,
and born into forty-five years in the dark,
the egg this child was also swayed in the arts
of lovers I took before you, fed with me
in the public markets of Baltimore and Denpasar
on oysters and rambutan, woke with me each year
to new waves of wander, fish and flower,
liqueur of each region, and bread of each village,
each cup of moonlight in the long sward
between my window and the Wannsee.
The egg he was heard and voices
of everyone I desired and held itself
in some deep hormonal bloom,
taking whatever was remarkable
in my life into its possibility.
We learned not to hurry in Balinese rain,
to listen for the rumble of wild boar
in the Malvan woods. We climbed
into planes bound for cities we’d never
visit again and skin we’d summon
with sobbing. And so, my husband,
as you dream of owning this child,
remember that he has ridden in my fire,
bathed in my blood, and sipped
at the breath I drew the first
time I saw what Rodin had clawed
from stone before he turned from Claudel
and went home for dinner and a clean shirt.
Remember that this child is collage
of everything before you, frangipani
and escargot, five-for-a-dollar boxes
of macaroni, and French cherries
from an old woman in Auvergne
who insisted on the gift
because it was so marvelous
to see a woman traveling alone.

Source: The Resurrection Trade. Copyright 2007.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


 - Joseph Hutchison

O heart weighed down by so many wings!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Farmer's Market - Change is in the Air

Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

UPDATE from Last Week:  

I don't know exactly when the Saturday Farmer's Market posts are supposed to wrap up, but I still seem to have plenty to write about. So if you will bear with me, I will continue until I run out of material.

A strange flower
for birds and butterflies
the autumn sky
- Matsuo Basho 
Blowing from the west
Fallen leaves gather
In the east.
- Buson
  A cool fall night--
getting dinner, we peeled
eggplants, cucumbers.
- Matsuo Basho
Consider me
As one who loved poetry
And persimmons.
- Shiki
A caterpillar,
this deep in fall--
still not a butterfly.
- Matsuo Basho

 This week I did a little maintenance work that did not relate directly to growing things.

First up is the little wood burning stove that sits outside my front door. The food dish for the outdoor cats sits on it and it's a place to set things when fishing door keys out of a full purse. (The interior is also a handy place for a few garden supplies I like to keep on hand.)

It hadn't been painted in quite a while and was badly in need. After only one new coat it looks just like new. My garden cat (along with all the furry travelers who stop by) is happy as a fuzzy little lark.

You're probably wondering what those red things are and what they have to do with the garden. (So does every body else.)

For years I have been dragging a heavy hose around to do my watering, and I'm sure you know how much damage a hose can do to delicate plantings. I needed hose guards, and especially at the numbers I needed, they can be pretty expensive.

Plumbing isle to the rescue! (You'd be surprised how useful that section of the hardware store can be.)

My husband cut lengths of PVC pipe and topped them with 45 degree elbows. We painted them red and they work beautifully - protecting my plants (and sparking conversations). They were also in need of repainting.

We have another project in the works that will include these little gems. Stay tuned.

The little bed with the Japanese Maple needed a some work. The verbena had reached the end of the line. (You can see it starting to go in the picture on the right.) I expected it to last until the cold weather set in, but it didn't. So I pulled it out.

Luckily, this is the season for plant sales!

I was happy to find a cousin to my Pieris Japonica. This one has variegated leave and turns red in the summer.

The existing plant is on the right and the new one is on the left. I had seen one of these in a nursery years ago and couldn't remember the name. So I always called it the Lily of the Valley bush because of the ton of little white flowers that cover it in the summer.

My Jade tree is getting ready to bloom again!

I didn't know that they can bloom twice a year
- early spring and winter.

This isn't exactly winter, but it's a great surprise anyway, especially considering I almost lost it last winter.

After running the weed eater, I got my blower out, (Both are electric and very light weight) but my garden cat steadfastly refused to acknowledge the operation and move.

I was not happy with the Mums this year. Yes, they bloomed twice, but they also harbored bugs and the foliage looks terrible.

I had already pulled them out of the front bed and this week I pulled the rest out of the barrel near the Japanese Maple, replacing them with Shasta Daisies.

I like the contrast better too.

The sale also netted me two little Agave
- and now the family expects me to start making Tequila.

Me thinks they mock.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chernobyl Year

 - Jehanne Dubrow
We dreamed of glowing children,
their throats alive and cancerous,
their eyes like lightning in the dark.

We were uneasy in our skins,
sixth grade, a year for blowing up,
for learning that nothing contains

that heat which comes from growing,
the way our parents seemed at once
both tall as cooling towers and crushed

beneath the pressure of small things—
family dinners, the evening news,
the dead voice of the dial tone.

Even the ground was ticking.
The parts that grew grew poison.
Whatever we ate became a stone.

Whatever we said was love became
plutonium, became a spark
of panic in the buried world.

from: West Branch, No. 66, 2010. Copyright 2010.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Certain Kind of Eden

 - Kay Ryan
It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.

from: Flamingo Watching. Copyright 1994.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World

 - Sherman Alexie

The morning air is all awash with angels . . .
                                                          - Richard Wilbur

The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is most among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He's astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. "Hey, Ma,

I say, "Can I talk to Poppa?" She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. "Shit, Mom,"
I say. "I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?" "It’s okay," she says.
"I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn't realize my mistake
Until this afternoon." My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

from: Face. Copyright 2009.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Breast Cancer Survivor Asks Prudence an Important Question:

Q: Breast Cancer Remission: I have been in remission for breast cancer for about four years now. I was fortunate to have good health insurance and a supportive network or friends and family during my treatment and recovery. Every October I grapple with the same problem: I feel no loyalty or desire to help out with breast cancer awareness funds.

To be quite blunt, I find most national campaigns to be impersonal, they do not score very highly on the charity calculator, and they were not there for me when I was suffering. I am also not particularly interesting in doing any of the 5Ks or other events in October. I find the best way to help breast cancer sufferers is to donate and volunteer at the local level.

Every year I get a lot of inquiries if I am participating in different campaigns or activities and when I say no, there is always a bit of an awkward pause. I don't really want to get into why I choose to support the local level more than national, and I don't want people to think I am insensitive to the needs of those with breast cancer. What is a good response to their inquiries?

A: Thank you for standing against this pink ribbon oppression. Both my grandmother and mother had breast cancer, and I, too, have no interest in buying pink ribbon yogurt, or participating in walks for the purpose of handing a big chunk of cash to overpaid executives.

You might like the books Pink Ribbon Blues and Bright-Sided, which explore both the dark side of big breast cancer charities and the incessant cheerleading imposed on breast cancer survivors. Mostly, you need a way to shrug off the inquiries. "I give to cancer organizations that help people in this community," should be enough to shut up most people.

But if you're up for it, you could do a little breast cancer education of your own and say that unfortunately, some of the big breast cancer charities do not use their money effectively.

- Dear Prudence, Slate.
Yes, it's October again.

Mammograms are important. There are locations around the nation and the world where women can receive a mammogram at low cost or no cost.  If you are in the US, here are a few places to start your search gleaned from various sources (cited):

* The American Breast Cancer Foundation’s Key to Life Breast Cancer Screening Assistance Program provides financial assistance to uninsured and underinsured women and men of all ages for breast cancer testing. Call their toll-free enrollment hotline, 877-Key-2-Life (877-539-2543).

* The American Cancer Society. Go to, find the blue box on the upper right (“Find ACS in Your Community”), enter your zip code, and it’ll direct you to your local ACS office. They can tell you what resources are available in your area. Or call the ACS toll-free: 1-800-ACS-2345.

* The American College of Radiology - Search for these facilities in your area. The facilities that are participating will be listed with a pink ribbon designation.

* CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programs: Offer low-cost mammograms and clinical breast exams to women between the ages of 40-64. States are legally able to narrow the age range, so call your state to find out if you are eligible for this program. They may also have information about other facilities in their area for younger women. Call toll-free 1-888-842-6355 (select option 7) or log onto the above Web site for information specific to your area.

* To find a certified radiology center in your area, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site offers a list of facilities, which is updated weekly. Just click here.

* Planned Parenthood Clinics: Women can make an appointment for all types of low-cost or free health services, including breast health, with the clinic nearest them by calling 1-800-230-PLAN (800-230-7526).

* The United States Center for Disease Control’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides access to critical breast and cervical cancer screening services for underserved women in the United States. Their Web site lets you click to your state to find a local health care facility that offers low-cost mammograms for women meeting the income guidelines. Click here.

* The United States Government’s National Cancer Institute can direct you to a local resource for low-cost mammograms. Call them toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Be ready with your zip code. Click here.

* YWCA Encore Plus Programs: Services are provided on a sliding scale. Screening mammography is available to women 35 years and older who are medically underserved. Call 1-800-95-EPLUS (1-800-953-7587).

* Finally, try calling your local hospital. Ask to speak to a social worker. He or she will be the one who’ll know about the availability of low-cost cancer screenings and/or special campaigns in your community.
- CBS News, Liv Aware. Jezebel. This blog.

Donations are also important. 

But please donate wisely. If you would like to donate (time or money) try these:

* Breast Cancer Action - "We demand accountability.

* See also: 'Think before you pink' campaign, demanding transparency in pink-washed product marketing.

"A cure is not enough. We have to prevent it. The cures we have aren't working."

 - Executive Director Karuna Jaggar.


* American Cancer Society - Donations intended for breast cancer research and screening can be earmarked to support NBCCEDP (the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program). They have focused heavily on social disparities as they relate to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and have awarded more than $113 million in grants to researchers looking into social disparity as it relates to cancer. 


* The National Breast Cancer Coalition - They aim to promote research into causes of breast cancer and the best possible treatment for the disease, access to treatment for all women, and encourage breast cancer advocates to speak up and stand up against the disease.


* The Breast Cancer Research Foundation - Ninety cents of every dollar donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation goes to supporting breast cancer research. (Komen only gives about 20 cents per dollar to research) 


* Unite For Her - Unite For Her aims to help breast cancer patients integrate other therapies that would complement the care they're being given by their doctors. Think acupuncture, massage, yoga, counseling, and other treatments that address a woman's spiritual and emotional needs during what could be a long and difficult fight against cancer.

The organization's aim is to "educate, empower, and restore."

Further Resources: {here}

My prior posts about BC: here & here & here & here & here & here.

I Have Found What You Are Like

- E. E. Cummings

i have found what you are like
the rain,

            (Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

easily the pale club of the wind
and swirled justly souls of flower strike

the air in utterable coolness

deeds of green thrilling light
                                  with thinned

newfragile yellows


—in the woods

And the coolness of your smile is
stirringofbirds between my arms;but
i should rather than anything
have(almost when hugeness will shut
                  your kiss

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Afterbirth, 1931

- Kwame Dawes

We were a Colored Clan of Kinfolk
who threw soil not salt
over our shoulders
who tendered close the bible
who grew and passed around the almanac at night
so we would know
what to plant at first light

Black soil and sweet brown sorghum
from the every morning biscuits
Mama Susan fixed
dripping and mixing
up under our fingernails
a secret salve
lust like any other
living simple
and keeping to our proud selves
quite aware of night riders
quite aware of men with
politicious smiles
who walked by
cologned with kerosene and match
Aware of just whose feet
walked across our tin roofs at night
we were such light sleepers
such long distance believers
we were a family pregnant
whose water had broken
And for once
There was ham money
‘bacca money
so we thought to do better by ourselves
to begin our next row
we would go and get him
because he was medically degreed in baby bringing
because he was young and white and handsome
and because of that
had been neighbor to more knowledge
there in the city
than us back behind the country’s proud but inferior lines
And because he came with his papers in his pocket
so convincing
so soon
after his ivy graduation
asking us hadn’t we heard
telling us times had changed
and the midwife wasn’t safe anymore
even though we had all been caught
by tried and true Black Grannies
who lay ax blade sharpside up
and water pan underneath the bed
to cut the pain
to cool the fever.
We were a Pregnant Clan of Kinfolk
caught with water running down our legs
old family say they can remember
going to fetch him
telling him that it was time
that he should come now
but he didn’t show right away
not right away
but came when he wanted
the next day
after his breakfast
but what more
could we colored country folks ever want
even if we had to watch the road all night for him
even if we had to not let her push too hard
when he finally came
he had his papers on him
something with one of those pretty shiny seals
old family say they can remember
somethin’ just wasn’t right
but we opened the screen for him anyway
and tendering close what the Good Book
had told us all our lives to do.
Then we made him a path
where he put his hands up then inside
my grandmother’s womb
her precious private pleasing place
somewhere he probably didn’t want to touch
Then he pulled my daddy through
somebody he probably didn’t care to reach for
and from the first he pulled him wrong
and wrong
shattered his collarbone
and snapped his soft baby foot in half
and smashed the cartilage in his infant hand
their own sunbacked arms
old timey family
remember him well
say they knew somethin’ wasn’t right
as he came through the door
a day later
his breakfast digested now
somethin’ just wasn’t right
how he had two waters on him
one sweet one sourmash
one trying to throw snow quilt over the other
as he uncarefully
as drunkenly
he with his papers on him still
stood there turning a brown baby into blue
and right before our eyes
Hope and pray
Hope and pray
Then he packed his bag and left
with all of his official training
and gathered up gold stars left
the Virginia land of Cumberland county
he left and forgot
he left and didn’t rem ember
the afterbirth inside
Carlene Godwin Finney
to clabber
close down
her place
her precious private pleasing place
to fill the house to the rafters
up past the dimpled tin roof
with a rotting smell
that stayed for nine days
that mortgaged a room
on our memories
and did not die along with her
We were a Brown and Pregnant Family
and we would’ve remembered his schoolin’
and left his bottle
recollected his manners
and brought his right mind
had another klan called him to their bedside
he would’ve come right away
he would’ve never had liquor on his breath
if the color of my daddy’s broken limbs
had matched the color of his own but
We were a Colored Clan of kinfolk
who should’ve met him at the door
shouldn’ve told him lean first into the rusty screen
made him open up his mouth and blow
breathe our right there
into all of our brown and lined up faces
in wait of his worthiness
Then just for good measure
should’ve made him blow once again
into Papa Josh’s truth telling jar
just to be sure
should’ve let Mama Sally
then Aunt Nanny
then lastly Aunt Mary
give him the final once over
and hold his sterile hands
down to the firelight to check
just like she checked our own every night
before supper
before we were allowed to sit
at her very particular table
We could’ve let Aunt Ira clutch him by his chin
enter and leave through his eyes
just like how she came and went through us
everyday at her leisure
She wouldn’ve took care to notice
as she traveled all up and through him
any shaking any sweating
and caught his incapable belligerent incompetence
in time
oh Jesus
We should’ve let Grandpop Robert
have him from the first
should’ve let him pick him up
by the back of his pants
and swirl him around
just like he picked us up
and swirled us around
anytime he caught us lying or lazy
or being less than what we were
We should’ve let Granpop
loose on him from the start
and he would’ve held him up
higheye to the sun
and looked straight through him
Just like he held us up
and then he would have known first
like he always knew first
and brought to us
the very map of is heart
then we would have known
just what his intentions were
with our Carlene
Before we knew his name
or cared about his many degrees
before he dared reach up then inside
our family’s brown globe
while we stood there
some of us throwing good black soil
with one hand
some of us tending close
the good book with the other
believing and trusting
we were ding better
by this one
standing there
with waterfalls funning
screaming whitewater rapids
down our pantslegs
down our pantaloons
to our manyselves
All the while
praying hard
that maybe we were wrong
(please make us wrng)
and One Hundred Proof
smelled the same as

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday Farmer's Market - The Never Ending Story ...

Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

UPDATE from Last Week:   

I read over last week's post after it came up and realized that one of my pictures was missing. I must have accidentally deleted it while formatting the post. It was the picture of my pomegranates - and here they are.

The four foot tree has quite a few fruits of various sizes and they kind of grow in clusters. Commercial growers thin the smaller ones out so that the others will grow big and unblemished.

I, however, have no one to please but myself; so I've left all the fruit on the tree.

It is a goofy looking tree, with some of the swooping branches actually longer than the tree is tall. In my reading I discovered that I shouldn't have let it set fruit this year. They are too heavy for the young branches.

Mine is supposed to be a dwarf/semi-dwarf, and I hope it is. I'd rather not have a thirty+ foot tree. But they say it is eminently prunable to whatever size and shape you want.

If you've ever wondered what there is to do with a pomegranate, here's a web site dedicated only to them, sponsered by the POM council. Go HERE for everything you ever wanted to know about pomegranates and recipes!

This poem captures my current nostalgia.

Pesto in August

How many times does this ritual repeat
itself, preparation that begins with sweetness

unlocked by the parting of leaves? How many
women have unpetaled garlic cloves, dripped oil

cold-pressed from olives down a bowl’s curve,
ground the edible seeds of pine with mortar

and pestle until the clay was sweet with resin?
Though the legend speaks of love, in Italy

when a woman let basil’s scent seep from
her clay-potted balcony, she was being modest

when she said the smell would tell a certain man
to be ready only for her flowers and her smile.

Tonight I steam pasta until my wallpaper curls
from the walls, slice heavy globes of tomatoes

that separate in sighs of juice and seed,
then toss them with hot spaghetti and the green

my garden has produced with sun, wind, earth,
moon, rain; I remember another legend,

that a sprig of basil given
in love seals love forever.

A clink of plates, of silverware, an overflow
of wine. Say, Love, I am ready. Come. Take. Eat.

from: Atlas. Copyright 2004.

I know I said last week that most of the garden work is done. But even as I said it, new projects were forming in the back of my mind. I think that's the way of the true gardener. Our gardens continue to grow and evolve, even if it's mostly in our heads. I read recently, but I can't remember where, that gardening is good exercise for not only our bodies, but our minds and spirits as well. I've always said that my garden is my therapy.

We took our grandkids to a Harvest Festival near us this weekend. It was at a Nature Center and we learned about the wildlife that surrounds us as well as native flora for our lawns and gardens, there were crafts, talks, and a nature walk.

I also picked up a new book detailing local flora & fauna, The Outdoor World of the Sacramento Region.

We all learned a lot, the kids had fun, and yes, it fueled ideas for more garden projects.

There is no end to garden season. Really.